Christmas Joy in Georgia

December 26, 2012 • Republic of Georgia

Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts bring happiness to children living in difficult circumstances

The people of the Republic of Georgia have seen their own series of hardships over the past decade, especially when the Soviet Union fell. But when a country suffers as a whole, everyone feels it—especially the children.

“In 2008, Georgia also had war so there are many children who are victims of those wars,” said Vitaly Dudukaloff, an Operation Christmas Child ministry partner. “They don’t have parents. They don’t have futures. They don’t have pasts because the war destroyed everything.”

Georgia has had economic problems for years. Twenty-eight percent of the children, a quarter of Georgia’s population, live beneath the poverty line, according to SOS Children’s Village International.

In a country where the need is so great, Samaritan’s Purse is touching the hearts of many children and their families through Operation Christmas Child. Shoe box gifts distributed by local Christians are providing evidence of God’s love and opening doors to tell of the true meaning of Christmas, the Savior who was born to give Himself as a sacrifice for sins.

“This is a great opportunity,” Georgian pastor Genadi Romanadze said. “We get to share the Gospel with them. We invite them to small groups, Bible studies and to talk to the parents.”

During one shoe box distribution, the children immediately started clapping once they saw the gifts enter the room.

“The kids are always excited and happy,” volunteer Guliko Koshkeli said. “Some even cry because they got what they needed.”

Many of the shoe boxes are given to children who otherwise wouldn’t receive a Christmas present. A distribution took place at an organization called Noah’s Ark, an outreach to boys and girls living in desperate circumstances. Some of them beg for money on the street. The program provides the children with meals and teach them how to read and write. The gifts reinforced the message that God has not forsaken them.

“Parents and society ignore these children,” said Marina Usupyan, a Noah’s Ark volunteer. “We teach that Jesus loves them and died for them.”

More than 1.2 million shoe boxes have been distributed in Georgia—1.2 million children whose lives were impacted directly with an example of Christ’s love for them.

“When the church packs shoe boxes, the church here gets a very important tool that they can use,” Dudukaloff said.

Please pray for the children in Georgia and around the world, as shoe boxes collected this year are distributed. Pray that God will continue to use the gifts to reach boys and girls and their families with His love.